Education: Johnstown Flood Museum

Johnstown Area Heritage Association
Primary Source: Music

Popular Music Inspired by the Johnstown Flood

Continued from page 1, Ballads

If you can read music, try to play or sing some of these pieces of music. Ask your music teacher to help your class learn the songs and hear the instrumentals. Read the lyrics of the two songs and the notes above the instrumentals:

  • What story is each composer trying to tell?
  • Who is the audience for this music? What message is coming through? How well did each succeed in communicating their messages? How well does the message match the audience?
  • What words does he or she use deliver the message? What emotions does the music express?
  • Compare the story-telling in these songs to the story-telling in the news articles, the survivor stories, and the artists' illlustrations of the Flood. Try matching up illustrations with each piece of music.
  • How well does the cover of the sheet music illustrate the music? Do you you think you picked the best picture to go with the song or did the publisher? Why?
  • What parts of the Flood story does each medium (writing, illustrating, or music) tell best?
  • What parts of the Flood story would you tell through music?

Click on the images below to view a larger image. Each piece of music is also available as a PDF for better printing.

Instrumental: "The Peerless Rider March," Henry J. Lincoln, 1889

PDF version of "The Peerless Rider March"

Instrumental: "The Johnstown Flood," Alberto Rivieri, 1889

PDF version of "The Johnstown Flood "

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